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Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey Paperback – January 31, 2013
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“Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper are wise guides for the journey. In Faithmapping they set out a pattern for personal discipleship and the life of the faithful Christian in the local church. I welcome this book.”
—R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“These days, it seems like ‘gospel-centered’ books are a dime a dozen. Yet, Faithmapping isn’t anything if it’s not unique. The missional focus of this contribution to the gospel-centered movement is a breath of fresh air. Well done.”
—Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College
“Faithmapping is excellent. When I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it, and when I was reading it, I didn’t want to put it down. It is theologically profound and yet very easy to read.”
—Jessica Thompson, author, Everyday Grace; coauthor, Give Them Grace
“Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper are human torches, afire with the gospel and igniting the dry kindling all around them. This book, full of gospel beauty and Bible wisdom, can light up the path in front of you, as you walk the path God is stretching out before your feet. Read it, and feel the fire.”
—Russell D. Moore, president, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
About the Author
Daniel Montgomery (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the founder and lead pastor of Sojourn Community Church and founder of Sojourn Network.
Mike Cosper is the director of the Harbor Institute for Faith and Culture, where he works to create resources for Christians living in a post-Christian world. Prior to that, he was a founding pastor at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he served for sixteen years as the pastor of worship and arts.
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This life is centered in the gospel of Jesus. In the midst of Christian fads and pendulum swings, they present one gospel that can be viewed through three interconnected aspects. The Gospel of the Kingdom: life with God as it was intended to be, under God's rule and reign, has come. The Gospel of the Cross: through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we have been made right with God. And the Gospel of Grace: God accepts us and shares his life freely with us at Christ's expense. Each aspect is shown to be integrally related to the others and is vividly illustrated. This gospel brings us into God's one Church, in which we live out five identities: we are worshipers, family, servants, disciples, and witnesses. The context for living these out is the world: our location (homes and neighborhoods), vocation, recreation, restoration (meeting needs), and multiplication.
I can say with certainty that the content of "Faithmapping" (as I've been exposed to it through the ministries of Sojourn over the past 2 years) has helped me make connections in my thinking that have changed the way I live and brought clarity to the way I communicate the gospel. It alleviates the tension often felt between how the gospel changes life here and now, how we enter that life, and what we look forward to in hope. It's given me a grid for thinking through what I read. It's grounded ministry opportunities by forcing me to think through how various aspects of the gospel and our identity are communicated through my everyday conversations, small group discussions, and service opportunities. Most importantly, it's contributed to broadening the way I try to remind myself of the gospel when I find myself drifting.
In terms of potential weaknesses of the book, Part 3 (Whole World) cries out for a fuller treatment. The nature of the book is that each part can be "zoomed in" on, just like you could look at a Google map of the US, zoom in on Kentucky, and then Louisville. Volumes have been written on the subjects of the various chapters, and a helpful list for further reading has been provided. But Part 3 seemed especially short and somewhat hurried, and no further reading list is provided for this section, giving it a somewhat "tacked on" feel. It's rich stuff - but really needs more space.
I'm thankful for Montgomery and Cosper, and for the way God has gifted them in holding together His truth and presenting it with clarity and imagination. Get your hands on a copy no matter where you're at on your spiritual journey, and have a highlighter ready. You'll be wanting to talk about this one together with others on the path.
(Note to the editor/publisher: another minor weakness of the book as it stands is multiple typographical errors that were a bit distracting [misspelled words, phrases repeated, etc.. would love to see these corrected in the next printing.]
I'm a fairly jaded individual. I am skeptical of anything that is a catchall, or claims to have THE answer. So when I first heard about faithmapping, I naturally had a wait and see attitude about the whole thing. The idea that any two guys would be able to write a book answering the question of how we are to live as Christians, a question that has been asked and answered since the apostle Paul wrote his first Epistle.....look, its not that I don't love and trust these guys, but this is no small task.
Faithmapping opens with:
"Faithmapping's goal is to show how the gospel, the church and our mission are a coherent, organic, interrelated whole, rather than distinct, independent ideas. They inform and expand our understanding of each other, a whole gospel for a whole church on mission in the whole world." pg 26
Ok, this seems to be a bit more on the doable side of things, but it still begs the question: is one book really going to be able to sufficiently answer this question?
The (theoretically) Bad:
My criticism of this book is a pretty vague one, and I'll admit that I'm probably projecting some things onto this book that I've been wrestling with before I even opened it. But that's the thing about books or music or art, once it is submitted to the audience, the author loses the ability to control how it's received.
I worry that this book and books like it think that we have figured out how to remedy the age old problem of Emphasis in Christianity. Throughout each stage in Christianity, we can look back and point out the flaws of how the people at any given time overemphasized some part of the Gospel and/or underemphasized another. Faithmapping, and other books like it, seem to want to answer that question with "so we don't over/underemphasize any aspects of the Gospel, we're going to emphasize all of them!"
Anyone can see why this would be appealing, and to their credit, I think that Cosper and Montgomery have outlined a pretty good argument for doing just that. My only hesitation is that I wonder in 50 years, what will Christians be saying about My church, Sojourn, and what we Over/underemphasized
This criticism, of course, loses much of its teeth because the authors are men who aspire to serve their church, local and universal, and recognize that this book is not an answer to the question I am asking (how arrogant of me to expect that of them, honestly).
1) The structure-
Its pretty clear that Montgomery and Cosper were aware of the largeness of the undertaking, as the structure of the book is actually more like 3 small, albeit interconnected, books in one: Whole Gospel, Whole Church, Whole World. The sections attempt to show the reader that God did not intend for our lives to be segmented into parts, but that Christianity is a way of life. The Gospel informs how we do community and how we engage with our culture. The way we engage in community will inform how we view the Gospel. The way we think about culture will impact what we believe about the Gospel.
This Is the books strength, in that it effectively enables the reader to see that this universe is created in such a way that isolation is a futile task, down to the very way we even think about this life.
"We need an understanding of the gospel that brings clarity and unity. Whatever the cause may be- whether we're talking about business, sports, or military conquest- it's necessary to get clarity about the mission...The gospel isn't a message in tension with itself. It's not something that's conflicted or self-contradictory. But it's also not simplistic. If we believe that the gospel is a fundamental truth that transforms the whole world, why would we be surprised when we find that it's not easily reduced to a catch phrase or bumper sticker." pg 96
2) The breakdown
At the end of each chapter, three questions emerge: "Where am I?", "Where am I going?" and "How do I get there?" Nothing productive happens when you're ignorant of any of them. Nothing good happens when you are an expert at only one. Careful to be both productive and good to the task, Montgomery and Cosper move us through 'Whole Gospel', 'Whole Church' and 'Whole World' by having us think through each of these questions at the end of every chapter.
In the end, this book was a great encouragement to me. It became very clear that the authors (again, my pastors) wrote this book with a desire to serve the church, not to simply inform it.